Saturday, 4 June 2011

William Moynihan's Other Family -- or not!

A couple of weeks ago, in my post "Sunday Obituary: Jeremiah Francis Moynihan of Ventura, California," I shared the news that my first cousin once-removed, Jerry Moynihan, had passed away.  Jerry's lovely obituary told me a great deal about his branch of the family, and allowed me to conclude that his father, William Moynihan, died when Jerry was quite young, after which his mother remarried.  That got me thinking about William, who is my grandfather's older brother, and it got me searching for records about his life in the United States.

I was puzzled by the first record that I found when searching recently.  It was a record of William arriving in Boston in 1924 with a woman and two children.  I was certain he'd arrived much earlier and single, before World War I.  But the record, as you see, shows that William and his family had been visiting his father Jeremiah at Shountullig.  We know from the Irish Censuses and Aunty Nora's paper that there's only one family at Shountullig (aka Shantullig):  our family.


Have a look at the ship's manifest above.  It certainly looks like William is travelling with his wife Margaret and their children Jeremiah and Margaret.  My great-grandad, Jeremiah, is shown to be Margaret's father-in-law and the children's grandfather.  My father thought he'd heard that William had been married before.  But it seemed strange to me that he would have two sons named Jeremiah:  one by Margaret, and one by Elizabeth O'Connor (that is, Jerry Moynihan of Ventura).  Certainly Irish families reused names, but typically it was when a child died in infancy.  In fact, that's why William had two brothers named Daniel.

So why would William name two sons Jeremiah?  Then I remembered some of the other records I'd seen years ago, researching William:
  • first, his earlier arrival in New York;
  • second, his World War I draft registration.
Many years ago, when the Ellis Island site was still wet behind the years (and me too, for that matter), I found the record of William's arrival in New York in 1915.  He's not easy to find.  He's transcribed as William Moynehan on the Ellis Island site and William Moyuchan on Ancestry.  I've submitted a correction to Ancestry, by the way. 

TIP:   Sometimes, you need to search by first name.

Because of the transcription error, to find William's 1915 ship's manifest on Ancestry via Family Tree Maker in order to merge his data, I was forced to search for all men named William arriving in New York on the Lapland on June 1, 1915.  It wasn't quite as bad as it sounds, but it took a while.

The ship's manifest shows that William was hospitalized on arrival, which would have delayed his arrival at his planned destination, Buffalo, where he was joining his brother Timothy.  Tim's address was given on the manifest as 76 Hamburg Street, Buffalo.  I Googled the address, which today appears to be a rather downtrodden industrial and residential area by the tracks.

So William arrived in mid-1915, single.  But the Jeremiah he travelled from Ireland with in 1924 was born in 1915.  Let's just say that when one considers biology and Catholocism, it seems unlikely this Jeremiah was William's son.

Then there's William's draft registration card, a document that had puzzled me for years.


When I'd first seen this, years ago, I couldn't figure out what sister-in-law he could be responsible for.  As far as I knew, of his brothers:
  • Patrick had already returned to Ireland to have his family and was still alive;
  • James, Daniel and Tim never married;
  • Con and Jeremiah were still alive; and
  • my grandad, John never left Ireland and lived until 1978.

TIP:  Periodically go over old conclusions in light of new information.

Then I remembered that I'd recently seen a marriage record for James.  He'd married in Boston, which had surprised me, as I thought he stayed in the Buffalo area after arriving in the States.  But Family Search had the image of the marriage registry and it convinced me I had the right James Moynihan as his parent's names were given correctly.  Guess the name of his bride?

Margaret.  Did you see that coming?

So William's brother James Moynihan married Margaret Daley in Boston on June 18, 1913.  The children that visited their grandfather Jeremiah in Ireland in 1924 were born in 1915 and 1917.  It makes sense that they're James' children.

It appears that James died in late 1916 or 1917, after young Margaret was conceived.  I wonder if he lived to see his little girl.  William and Tim's WWI draft registration cards, which appear to have been completed in 1917, indicate they were living together at 118 Walter St. in Buffalo and both single but responsible for a sister/sister-in-law.  And in the 1920 U.S. Census, we find a widowed Margaret "Mimahan" living at 434 South Division St. with her children Jeremiah and Margaret, her brothers-in-law Timothy and William, and several boarders.

By the 1930 U.S. Census, of course, William had married Elizabeth O'Connor and was living with Jerry (of Ventura) and Michael at 17 Woodside Ave., Buffalo.   Tim was still living with Margaret, the kids and boarders, by this time at #2-17 Mariemont St.

Did you notice how I wrote that above?  "It makes sense that" and "it appears that."  To really be sure of the connections I've just laid out, I would need to see the birth certificates of Margaret's children Jeremiah and Margaret to be sure my great-uncle James is their father.  And I'd need to see James' death certificate.  I don't think any of these records are accessible to a relative as distant as I am.

Perhaps one of the descendants of Jeremiah Moynihan, born 1915, and Margaret Moynihan, born 1917, will stumble upon this blog one day soon and get in touch.  Hello, Buffalo cousins!  You've got relatives close by in Ontario, Canada.  Please get in touch:  jimsgirlblog at gmail.com

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